The state of Michigan has six proposals on the ballot this year, of which five would amend the state constitution. While many don’t like the idea of amending the state’s constitution, this is one of the few ways that the electorate can directly deliver change when the legislature won’t act or if it enacts laws that run counter to the will of the people.
Given the stakes, Michigan voters are being inundated with opinions from all sides. This is especially true of Proposal 2, which guarantees the right to collective bargaining.
The governor has put together a short video regarding his opposition to Proposal 2 in which he states that the proposal should be relabeled the “back in time proposal,” because he claims it would repeal as many as 140 to 170 laws currently on the books that have existed for as many as 50 years.
While I support the governor’s opposition to Proposals 5 and 6, his rationale on voting against Prop 2 is perplexing and deceptive. If enacted, Proposal 2 would roll back some laws. The question that everyone is debating is the extent of these rollbacks.
The problem is that rather than attempting to give a good explanation, the opposition has taken to speculation and conjecture, which ends up coming off as fear mongering. I requested a list of the laws that would be affected from the governor’s office but have not received a response to my inquiry.
Like the governor, the Chamber of Commerce is also strongly opposed to Proposal 2, but unlike the governor they eventually produced a list of laws they suspect could be affected. And while the governor claims that 140 to 170 laws that have been on the books for as long as 50 years could be overturned, the Chamber only found around 80 laws, and every one of them was enacted in 2011.
The opposition likes to claim that Proposal 2 would stymie important laws that make Michigan more competitive, yet none of these laws that they deem paramount to Michigan’s success have even been in place for two years. Instead the list reads like a conservative manifesto on how to limit unions and help big business.
– Prohibits graduate students from having Collective Bargaining Rights.
– State imposed penalties for picketing.
– Expands Cyber Schools allowing taxpayer dollars to go to for profit business.
– Allows privatization of correctional facility.
– Prohibits public employers from allowing payroll deduction for dues of labor organizations.
– Forced privatization of non-instructional workers in public school districts.
– Prohibits government from competing with private enterprise.
– Repeals teacher tenure.
– Repeals prevailing wage act.
– Interferes with local control and collective bargaining over teacher evaluation/pay.
– Creates right-to-work zones.
– Creates health care plan for all public workers; eliminates collective bargaining.
– Repeal of Michigan Health and Safety Act.
– Allows districts to privatize public school teachers; expands Charter Schools; Remove collective bargaining agreement.
– Places restrictions on police officer and fire fighter arbitration rights.
They even go as far to suggest that this overreach of amending the constitution could affect the important work done by the Republican-led legislature of amending the constitution to allow the legislature to regulate the health benefits of public employees and officers. This is awfully hypocritical for a group of people who don’t want the government telling people what they can and cannot do and have ethical concerns about amending the constitution.
It should come as no surprise that the governor wants to avoid getting specific on the laws that would be affected, since many of these laws are direct attacks on collective bargaining – which many people support – while others are massive government giveaways to big business – which many people don’t support.
The reality is that Proposal 2 guarantees the right of Michigan workers to collectively bargain and repeals some of the overreach by the Republican-controlled legislature over the past two years. Regardless of whether you are for it or against it, we should expect more from our governor than misleading rhetoric that obfuscates the truth from Michigan voters.